Practises, Drivers and Barriers of an Emerging Regenerative Higher Education in The Netherlands—A Podcast-Based Inquiry

Bas van den Berg*, Kim Poldner, Ellen Sjoer, Arjen Wals

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


There are seven design practises that are emerging in higher educational practises across The Netherlands and Western Europe to connect universities with local transition challenges for more regenerative sustainable futures; The Regenerative Higher Education Design Practises Tool has the potential to be used to (re)design education to connect with sustainability transitions; Podcasting could be used as a form of qualitative inquiry within sustainability- and educational sciences. Highlights: Universities have the potential, and the responsibility, to take on more ecological and relational approaches to facilitating learning-based change in times of interconnected socioecological crises. Signs for a transition towards these more regenerative approaches of higher education (RHE) that include more place-based, ecological, and relational, ways of educating can already be found in niches across Europe (see for example the proliferation of education-based living labs, field labs, challenge labs). In this paper, the results of a podcast-based inquiry into the design practises and barriers to enacting such forms of RHE are shown. This study revealed seven educational practises that occurred across the innovation niches. It is important to note that these practises are enacted in different ways, or are locally nested in unique expressions; for example, while the ‘practise’ of cultivating personal transformations was represented across the included cases, the way these transformations were cultivated were unique expressions of each context. These RHE-design practises are derived from twenty-seven narrative-based podcasts as interviews recorded in the April through June 2021 period. The resulting podcast (The Regenerative Education Podcast) was published on all major streaming platforms in October 2021 and included 21 participants active in Dutch universities, 1 in Sweden, 1 in Germany, 1 in France, and 3 primarily online. Each episode engages with a leading practitioner, professor, teacher, and/or activist that is trying to connect their educational practice to making the world a more equitable, sustainable, and regenerative place. The episodes ranged from 30 to 70 min in total length and included both English (14) and Dutch (12) interviews. These episodes were analysed through transition mapping a method based on story analysis and transition design. The results include seven design practises such as cultivating personal transformations, nurturing ecosystems of support, and tackling relevant and urgent transition challenges, as well as a preliminary design tool that educational teams can use together with students and local agents in (re)designing their own RHE to connect their educational praxis with transition challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9138
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2022


  • ecological university
  • podcasting as qualitative inquiry
  • regenerative education design
  • regenerative education practises
  • regenerative higher education
  • sustainability transitions


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